PHILADELPHIA — Since he couldn't come up with a ditty to honor Philadelphia's favorite food, country music star Keith Urban opted instead to do a few bars of Elton John's famous homage to the City of Brotherly Love.
In a publicity stop at 30th Street Station on Tuesday, Urban greeted several hundred screaming fans — more than one of them professing love for the diminutive singer as he hopped on stage in a black shirt and blue jeans to promote his new album, Get Closer.
Urban played a mix of new and old songs as fans screamed his name and stomped along. Playing solo with just a guitar for the set, he got a special local cheer when he briefly sampled Philadelphia Freedom.
"It was either that or I do a Philly cheesesteak theme song," Urban said to applause, adding later that he couldn't really come up with one.
The new album came out Tuesday and Urban made "surprise" stops at New York's Penn Station and Philadelphia's 30th Street station. Those relatively intimate settings represent more of a singer-songwriter type feel that he said is true to the record's title.
"I think there's a good, good energy on this record," Urban said afterward in an interview with the Associated Press.
In past years, the Grammy winner has acknowledged a former addiction to cocaine and also rebounded from a well-publicized bout with alcoholism. But Urban, now 43, said his happy marriage to Nicole Kidman and their 2-year-old daughter, Sunday, helped give the new record its more positive feel.
"The love is very apparent on this record," he said.
The love was plenty apparent from his audience as well, as many of the fans found out in advance about the "surprise" appearance via the Internet and a local radio station. From the moment he stepped on the small makeshift stage in the middle of the bustling station, fans were screaming his name and snapping pictures of the steely-blue-eyed singer.
"I love you, too!" he shouted to an admirer at one point. "Thank you!"
One of the surprised fans in the crowd was Danielle Gettys, 25, who was waiting for a train back to her home in central Pennsylvania after attending a pharmaceutical convention in Philadelphia.
A longtime Urban fan, Gettys was ecstatic — "Are you kidding me?" she said to herself — when she suddenly saw Urban walking out to the stage. Moments later, she found herself singing along and swooning as he sang Put You in a Song from the new record.
"This is pure chance," Gettys said afterward. "I was going to take an earlier train. I'm glad I didn't."
Her only complaint? The 5-foot-1 Gettys had trouble seeing Urban over all the others in the crowd.
"I just wish I was a little taller," she said.